|Date of Birth: |
|Place of birth:|
|2014 (on loan)|
Folkestone Invicta FC
|2015 (on loan)|
Tonbridge Angels FC
|2015 (on loan)|
Gloucester City AFC
|2016 (on loan)|
Grays Athletic FC
|2017-2018 (on loan)|
Gloucester City AFC
Eastbourne Borough FC
Hi, I’m Tom Hadler and a goalie from Kent… Currently a free agent after leaving Eastbourne Borough I’m looking forward to getting back playing properly as soon as possible after COVID!
Who are the most important people within football environment?
For me it is definitely the goalie coach at the top. It is so important to have someone that knows how to challenge you and help you improve through relevant sessions but at the same time keep the environment fun, positive and confident. Obviously your team in general are massively important and making sure you don’t have any poisonous characters in there is vital to keeping a good atmosphere that translates to performances on the pitch.
Why did you start playing football? And were you immediately a goalkeeper?
Dad! He has always loved it and so I went to watch him play Sunday league from the age of 2 until he then stopped playing and started a team for me aged 6… I did the usual goalie story of “being a really good outfielder” before getting the gloves on and flying around, being quite good and the rest developed from there.
Tom, you started your football career by Gillingham FC. How did you get into the youth of Gillingham ? And who helped you the most?
I was scouted for Gillingham aged 11 and went straight into the academy bouncing between my age group and the one above until I was 15. Definitely in my first spell at Gills in the youth setup the goalkeeper coach Spencer Creedon had a massive impact on me and to this day is one of the best coaches I’ve worked with!
You left Gillingham in 2011 at the age of 15 “to concentrate on your studies”. During the 2012-2013 season you re-joined the club on a part-time basis. How was a year without football for you?
I left the academy at Gills for a couple of reasons both through lack of enjoyment and that I was at grammar school so wanted to do my a-levels whilst still aiming for a pro contract one day. As it was when I stepped out of Gillingham I absolutely loved playing again and was a part of the county football setup which enabled me to keep playing to a high level without the other aspects. During sixth form I then represented England Schoolboys which lead to some trials at other clubs before Gillingham took me back into the u18 setup, initially part time, before offering me my first pro contract for when I finished school.
You made your senior debut for Gillingham on 21 April 2018 in a 3–0 home defeat in the league against Blackpool. How did you experience that day ? And how important was that moment for you ?
It was a brilliant day. Looking back I didn’t feel like it at the time as I was wrapped up in having lost and the usual feelings around that, but it was a massive occasion for me and my family to have made my first league start and hopefully I will be able to achieve some more further in my career. I suppose it is the beginning of the journey still, but also a culmination of all the hard work and time that I’ve put in over the years, and that my family that have supported me with so incredibly too.
By Gillingham FC, you was loaned out to Folkestone Invicta FC, Tonbridge Angels FC, Grays Athletic FC and Gloucester City AFC. How did you experience these periods?
Loans are massive and did fantastic things for me at each point in my early career. You can’t replicate real men’s football so to go to all of those brilliant clubs and play a good number of games was fantastic.
And Tom, at which club did you learned the most?
I spent my longest loans at Gloucester and Tonbridge and was fortunate to have two fantastic groups of boys and managers which enabled me to learn and play with confidence every week. I think the ability to continually perform on a regular basis is the most beneficial part of a loan.
On 25 June 2019, you signed for your current club Eastbourne Borough FC. Why did you chose for Eastbourne ?
I needed to play football and at a decent level still. Having had a season of limited games it was important to go and get some regular games again. I had a good chat with Lee Bradbury and he was very positive about where the club was going so I was confident in signing and playing for him. Unfortunately the club struggled financially and Lee left so the season became pretty disjointed but overall it was a good bulk of games.
Tom, what are your personal goals in your career?
This season having just left Eastbourne I am looking to go and play some more football at as high a level as possible so will wait and see what the new season brings.